WBEZ | baseball http://www.wbez.org/tags/baseball Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Olympians-and reporters-head home from Sochi http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-24/morning-shift-olympians-and-reporters-head-home-sochi <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/by U.S. Army IMCOM.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a post-Sochi games wrap-up from Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair. Also, what&#39;s the future of drug policy? And, we talk with the director of a new film that looks at the battle over gay rights within the black community.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-51/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-51.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-51" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Olympians-and reporters-head home from Sochi" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 24 Feb 2014 08:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-24/morning-shift-olympians-and-reporters-head-home-sochi Morning Shift: Owning the legacy of an artist http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-16/morning-shift-owning-legacy-artist-108439 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Vivian Meier - Flickr - Thomas Leuthard.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The late street photographer Vivian Maier found fame when her photos were discovered and were included in exhibitions, a book and a documentary. But who owns the rights to her work?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-45.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-45" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Owning the legacy of an artist" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Fri, 16 Aug 2013 08:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-16/morning-shift-owning-legacy-artist-108439 Morning Shift: Doing what it takes to get fans into seats http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-01/morning-shift-doing-what-it-takes-get-fans-seats-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 9.24.16 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>More MLB players are expected to be suspended Friday for using performance enhancing drugs (PED). We discuss the effect the scandal is having on the game, and how the Milwaukee Brewers are making it up to fans after their star player was suspended.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-33.js" type="text/javascript" language="javascript"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-33" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Doing what it takes to get fans into seats" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 09:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-01/morning-shift-doing-what-it-takes-get-fans-seats-0 Blackhawks and Cub-Sox games tonight for Chicago fans http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-and-cub-sox-games-tonight-chicago-fans-107372 <p><p>Make sure your television remote control has plenty of battery power for the local sports action tonight. The Blackhawks try again to stave off elimination in Detroit and the Cubs travel across town to US Cellular to play the White Sox.</p><p>Game 6 will be another bruising battle for the Hawks and Red Wings. Down 3 games to 2, which team will show up for Coach Joel Quenneville?</p><p>Will it be the one that dominated in the first and last games or the one that was battered and embarrassed by their arch rivals in the middle contests?</p><p>On Saturday, the Blackhawks had the edge on every aspect of the game. They must try to carry the momentum at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. It will not be easy. During games 3 and 4 the Wings were fueled by their rabid fans and physically dominated the Hawks, especially Jonathan Towes. Chicago&#39;s &quot;Captain Serious&quot; has found scoring goals a huge struggle this post season. When he finally scored his first of the playoffs last Saturday (on the power play, no less) it was a huge weight off his shoulders and it seemed the team felt it, too.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_jonathan_toews_nam_y_huh.jpg" style="height: 329px; width: 360px; float: left;" title="Captain Jonathan Toews hopes for more playoff action after today.(AP Photo/Nan Y. Huh)" /></p><p>Rarely in a team sport like hockey can one player affect a team, but Toews is not an ordinary player. He is their leader and he provides important lift that raised the team to the best regular season record. After the game, Toews finally had a smile on his face and you could see he was relieved his team fought to play another day.</p><p>What was one of the big reasons the Hawks won a Stanley Cup three years ago?</p><p>If you answered traffic in the net, defense and scoring on the power play you would be right in all three categories.&nbsp;</p><p>Andrew Shaw (and to some extent Bryan Bickell) must disrupt Detroit&rsquo;s goalie Jimmy Howard. Shaw is not big, but he must plant himself in front of Howard.</p><p>The power play has been abysmal for most of the year and the post-season. It finally was better last game after the Hawks scored twice.</p><p>Finally, the area that has been the strength of the Blackhawks has been their defense and they need every combination to continue to play hard and block shots.</p><p>If the Hawks can control the puck and play every minute like it is their last, we will see a game six at the United Center on Wednesday. If not? It will be the last game until next fall and it will be a long summer of &quot;what ifs?&quot;</p><p><strong>Cubs-Sox: will the fans care?</strong></p><p>Not a lot of luster tonight for the start of a four-game series between the Sox and the Cubs. Neither team is lighting the baseball world on fire. The Sox have finally reached .500 after sweeping the lowly Miami Marlins yesterday. The last place Cubs snapped a six game losing streak beating the Reds in Cincinnati yesterday.</p><p>But there are still bragging rights for the victor. In a new format, the White Sox host the first two games and the Cubs will welcome the Sox the final two contests. Before yesterday&rsquo;s game Marlin outfielder Juan Pierre talked about playing on both sides of town and thought it was very special. Pierre said, &ldquo;It won&rsquo;t be the same without AJ (Pierzynski).&rdquo; How true that is.</p><p>Who could forget Cub catcher Michael Barrett punching AJ? There is no Ozzie Guillen to point out how bad the amenities are at Wrigley Field. When we asked Sox manager Robin Ventura about Wrigley, he likes the place (no drama there).&nbsp; The Cubs had their fair share of incidents, remember Lou Pinella getting into a shouting match with Carlos Zambrano and then sending him home?</p><p>Although there have been more empty seats the past few years, it&#39;s still fun for the fans to show their colors: Cubbie blue or Sox silver and black.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CRayeStout&lt;<a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">https://twitter.com/Crayestout</a>&gt; and Facebook Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame</a></p></p> Mon, 27 May 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-and-cub-sox-games-tonight-chicago-fans-107372 Bleacher bums arrested in 1920 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/bleacher-bums-arrested-1920-107259 <p><p>On May 24, 1920 the Chicago police staged their biggest gambling raid in years. Forty-seven people were arrested at a single location&mdash;the bleachers at Cubs&rsquo; Park.</p><p>Club officials had been aware of the problem for some time.&nbsp;The gamblers had staked out their own section of the stands.&nbsp;Anybody in the park who wanted to place a bet knew exactly where to find the action.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">So undercover cops infiltrated the open-air casino.&nbsp;They wore various disguises&ndash;&quot;teamsters, sailors, soldiers, ice wagon drivers, sewing machine agents, bootblacks, farmers,&quot; the <em>Tribune </em>reported.&nbsp;They ate peanuts and drank pop like ordinary fans.&nbsp;They watched the gamblers operate.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-24--image.jpg" title=" 'Five bucks says the runner on first doesn't score!' (Library of Congress)" /></div></div></div><p>The Cubs were playing the Phillies. Once the gamblers knew who was pitching, they could calculate the odds and accept wagers on the outcome of the game.</p><p>When play got underway, the action in the bleachers was even more intense.&nbsp;Now there was betting on each pitch.</p><p>&quot;Ten cents says he swings!&quot;</p><p>&quot;A dollar the pitcher changes his windup on the next one!&quot;</p><p>&quot;Two bits they send in a pinch-hitter the next time around!&quot;</p><p>&quot;Who wants ten dollars on the runner?&nbsp;Ten dollars says he streaks down to second!&quot;</p><p>At the end of the first inning, the undercover cops all stood up.&nbsp;In one voice, they announced: &quot;You&rsquo;re all under arrest!&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-24--LofC.jpg" title="'Okay--double or nothing the next guy doesn't score!' (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>The gamblers went meekly.&nbsp;One of them tried the sympathy angle. &quot;Do you want to break up a home?&quot; he pleaded to the nearest officer. &quot;My wife will get a divorce if she finds out about this.&quot;</p><p>The cop was unmoved. &quot;Six bits says she finds out,&quot; was his answer.</p><p>At the Town Hall Station, the 47 gamblers were charged.&nbsp;They were each released on $25 bond. Four of them didn&rsquo;t have enough money.&nbsp;They&rsquo;d have to spend the night in jail, and probably lose their night-shift jobs.</p><p>Then one of the other accused men stepped forward and posted bond for the four.&nbsp;He didn&rsquo;t know any of them, but that made no difference. &quot;I have faith in human nature,&quot; the Good Samaritan said. &quot;I&rsquo;m betting they show up in court.&quot;</p><p>What happened next?&nbsp;The papers lost interest in the story, and nothing more was reported.&nbsp;The final decisions are buried somewhere in a set of musty court files.</p><p>Cubs&rsquo; Park is now called Wrigley Field.&nbsp;Is there still gambling in the bleachers?</p><p>Wanna make a bet on it?</p></p> Fri, 24 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/bleacher-bums-arrested-1920-107259 Jackie Robinson's Chicago debut http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/jackie-robinsons-chicago-debut-106730 <p><p>With the new film <em>42</em>&nbsp;shaping up to be a critical and box office hit, Jackie Robinson is in the news. Today we&rsquo;ll look at his first game in Chicago&mdash;May 18, 1947.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-22--Library%20of%20Congress.jpg" style="width: 255px; height: 369px; float: right;" title="Jackie Robinson comic book (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>The Brooklyn Dodgers and Robinson were making their first swing through what were then the National League&rsquo;s western cities. They arrived in Chicago with a 13-12 record, a game behind the Cubs.</p><p>May 18&nbsp;was a Sunday. Two hours before the 1:30 p.m. starting time, Wrigley Field was filled. A crowd of 47,101 was on hand&mdash;the biggest since the Cubs had reconfigured the seating. About 10,000 more had been turned away.</p><p>&ldquo;Only a giant shoe-horn plus a human potato masher could squeeze any more into the ball park,&rdquo; the <em>Chicago Sun</em> said.</p><p>Robinson came into the game riding a 15-game hitting streak.&nbsp; The Dodger manager had said that his rookie first baseman was carrying the club. But Robinson could do nothing against three Cubs pitchers. He was blanked in four trips to the plate and was charged with an error in the field. The Dodgers won anyway, 4-2.</p><p>The big crowd was orderly, and there were no reported racial incidents. Through the years, a legend has come down that Robinson was booed in his Wrigley Field debut. If he was, it wasn&rsquo;t mentioned in the contemporary press.</p><p>In fact, the only report of any booing was printed in the <em>Defender</em>&mdash;and that booing was directed at Dixie Walker, the Dodger teammate who&rsquo;d opposed Robinson&rsquo;s signing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-22--Defender%2C%205-17-47.jpg" style="width: 255px; height: 373px; float: left;" title="Getting ready for Robinson's Chicago debut ('Chicago Defender'--May 17, 1947)" /></div><p>The <em>Daily News</em> interviewed Robinson about his first month in the major leagues. He said the sports writers had been generally supportive, and was even able to joke about the pressure he was under.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve talked about what a tough assignment I&rsquo;ve been handed,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Well, if I don&rsquo;t make the grade, then I&rsquo;m all fixed up with a ready alibi&mdash;too much pressure.&rdquo;</p><p>That was Jackie Robinson&rsquo;s first game at Wrigley Field. His last was on August 30, 1956. And I was there.</p><p>I was 8 years old, and didn&rsquo;t know it was going to be a historic occasion. The Dodgers were the defending world champions and were making their final visit of the season. Grandpa Price wanted to see the game and took me along.</p><p>By 1956 most major league teams had black players. The Cubs had Ernie Banks, Gene Baker, and Toothpick Sam Jones. To me, Robinson was just another guy on the other team. I don&rsquo;t remember anything about the game, and had to look it up to find out that the Cubs won, 4-3. Robinson played second base and went 0-for-3.</p><p>Jackie Robinson died in 1972, at the age of 53. In 1997 his number &ldquo;42&rdquo; was officially retired by all major league teams.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/jackie-robinsons-chicago-debut-106730 City, Cubs push $500 million Wrigley renovation http://www.wbez.org/news/city-cubs-push-500-million-wrigley-renovation-106643 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr_DaveNewman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Cubs and the city have agreed on details of a $500 million facelift for Wrigley Field, including an electronic video screen that is nearly three times as large as the one currently atop the centerfield bleachers of the 99-year-old ballpark.</p><p>Under terms of the agreement, the Cubs would also be able to increase the number of night games at Wrigley Field from 30 to 40 &mdash; or nearly half the games played there each season. They would give Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts the ability to renovate the second-oldest park in the major leagues, boost business and perhaps make baseball&#39;s most infamous losers competitive again.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed what the two sides called a &quot;framework&quot; agreement in a joint statement issued Sunday night, noting that it includes no taxpayer funding. That had been one of the original requests of the Ricketts family in a long-running renovation dispute that at times involved everything from cranky ballpark neighbors to ward politics and even the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.</p><p>&quot;This framework allows the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines (of Wrigley) and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors,&quot; Emanuel said.</p><p>Still uncertain was how the agreement will sit with owners of nearby buildings who provide rooftop views of the ball games under an agreement with the Cubs that goes back years. They have threatened to sue if the renovations obstruct their view, which they claim would drive them out of business.</p><p>On Monday, a spokesman for the rooftop owners said the group would have a statement later, but in the meantime referred the AP to the group&#39;s statement released earlier this month that says: &quot;Any construction that interrupts the rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law.&quot;</p><p>The Cubs said the video screen they are proposing to build is 6,000 square feet, and would be built with &quot;minimal impact on rooftops with whom (the) Cubs have an agreement.&quot; The current centerfield scoreboard is slightly more than 2,000 square feet; the Cubs also have plans to add a left-field sign of 1,000 square feet.</p><p>&quot;Rooftop views are largely preserved,&quot; the team said in its announcement. &quot;The Cubs have agreed to install only two signs in the outfield &mdash; a videoboard in left field and a sign in right field. This is far less than our original desire for seven signs to help offset the cost of ballpark restoration.&quot;</p><p>The signs offer the team a chance to reach new advertising deals and pay for the overhaul, even if it might change the character of the historic park. The city and club said they hope the agreement would allow the Cubs to obtain necessary city approvals for the work by the end of the current season.</p><p>The Ricketts family, which bought the Cubs in 2009 for $845 million, initially sought tax funding for renovation plans. With that out in the new agreement, the owners will seek to open new revenue streams outside the stadium. Under the agreement, the Ricketts family would be allowed to build a 175-room hotel, a plaza, and an office building with retail space and a health club, and provide 1,000 &quot;remote&quot; parking spots that will be free and come with shuttle service.</p><p>&quot;We are anxious to work with our community as we seek the approvals required to move the project forward,&quot; Ricketts said in the statement.</p><p>The site of Babe Ruth&#39;s &quot;called shot&quot; home run in the 1932 World Series and more heartbreak than Cubs fans would like to remember, Wrigley Field is younger only than Boston&#39;s Fenway Park in the majors. It has long been a treasured showplace for baseball purists &mdash; night games were only added in 1988 &mdash; but team officials for years have desperately wanted a true upgrade, saying it costs as much as $15 million a year just to keep up with basic repairs.</p><p>The ballpark has also played no small part in the lore of the team, as fans were reminded April 10 when someone delivered a goat&#39;s head in a box addressed to Ricketts. Neither the team nor the Chicago Police Department have talked about a possible motive for the strange delivery, but as every fan knows it was in the 1945 World Series when a tavern owner arrived at the park with his pet goat &mdash; which had a ticket.</p><p>According to legend, the owner was told the goat smelled and was denied entry. The angry tavern owner then put the &quot;Curse of the Billy Goat&quot; on the Cubs &mdash; and the team has not been back to the World Series since. The last World Series championship for the Cubs came in 1908 &mdash; six years before Wrigley was built.</p><p>After failing to reach an agreement when Mayor Richard Daley was in office, the Ricketts family kept talking after Emanuel took office in 2011. But even presidential politics presented an obstacle for the plans at one point.</p><p>During the 2012 election, the patriarch of the Ricketts family, which created the TD Ameritrade brokerage firm, was considering a $10 million campaign against Obama that would refer to the racially incendiary sermons delivered by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright at a Chicago church the president once attended. J. Joseph Ricketts dropped the proposal, but the episode brought a huge dose of unwanted bad press and angered Emanuel, Obama&#39;s former White House chief of staff.</p><p>In recent weeks, fans also had to deal with the unlikely specter of the Cubs leaving Chicago. With the talks bogged down, the mayor of nearby Rosemont piped up, saying the village located near O&#39;Hare International Airport would be willing to let the Cubs have 25 acres free of charge to build a replica of Wrigley Field.</p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 06:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-cubs-push-500-million-wrigley-renovation-106643 Baseball honors Jackie Robinson http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/baseball-honors-jackie-robinson-106641 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_jackie_robinson.jpg" style="height: 332px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="File: Jackie Robinson. (AP)" />Baseball is a game of numbers, but today there is only one that is important: 42. Major League Baseball in 2004 designated April 15&nbsp;as the annual celebration of Jackie Robinson&rsquo;s first appearance as a Brooklyn Dodger.</p><p>Sixteen years ago, Robinson&rsquo;s number was officially retired by the MLB. It&#39;s one of the most distinctive tributes to what he did for baseball and society. Part of the celebration includes all players, coaches and managers wearing the number 42 on their jerseys as all of baseball honors the man who bravely became the first African-American player in MLB.</p><p>Since the Cubs are off today, they will honor Robinson tomorrow night when they host the Texas Rangers. Two Hall of Fame Cubs will be part of pre-game ceremonies: Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. Banks was the first African-American to play for the Northsiders and considered Robinson as a mentor. Williams joined the major leagues shortly after Robinson and Banks.</p><p>Hollywood is also spotlighting Robinson with the recently released movie <em>42: The True Story of an American Legend.</em></p><p>It&#39;s not the first cinematic version of the icon&#39;s story. In 1950, Robinson starred in the biographical film, <em>The Jackie Robinson Story</em>. There have also been three television versions of his story and a Broadway production about his life and legacy. The timing of the recent biography will help younger generations be aware and informed about the difficulties that Robinson, and to some extent Dodger executive Branch Rickey, went through to break the color barrier in baseball. It was a defining moment not just for sports, but a reflection on the racial divide in America.</p><p>Cubs players Dave Sappelt, Scott Hairston and hitting coach James Rowson reflected on Robinson&#39;s legacy.</p><p>This is Sappelt&rsquo;s first time celebrating Robinson in the major leagues. He recalled his grandparents telling him stories about the famed player. However, the Cubs outfielder remarked the sport&#39;s racial struggles lasted decades beyond that 1947 season. Sappelt believes wearing the 42 jersey will show appreciation to Robinson and the others who followed and played the game the right way under tremendous pressure.</p><p>Tomorrow will also be a first for Rowsan. In his first full season as a major league coach, Rowsan says wearing 42 is &ldquo;a great level of honor.&rdquo; Even though the league celebrates Jackie Robinson once a year, Rowsan says he and other African Americans celebrate everyday they step on a baseball field. Growing up in New York, he said he learned the lessons of that era from his father.</p><p>Hairston comes from a long line of baseball players. He and his brother Jerry Jr. followed in their father Jerry and Uncle John&rsquo;s footsteps and they were preceded by Sam Hairston, who played in the Negro Leagues with Robinson. Hairston said Robinson may not have been the best player from the Negro League, but he was the best to withstand the challenges of breaking the color barrier. Hairston said it is &ldquo;mind blowing&rdquo; to think about Robinson being the only black player that first year.</p><p>As a young man, Hairston heard stories from his grandfather about the problems players in the Negro League dealt with on the road. Hotels often turned them away, forcing players to sleep on buses. But Hairston said his grandfather never lost the love for the game. And he says players should never lose that appreciation of what those players went through. With two young sons age 5 and 7, Hairston had murals of Sam Hairston in action painted on their bedroom walls. Tuesday night, Hairston says he will think of his grandfather as he and the rest of baseball honor Jackie Robinson.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_top">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/baseball-honors-jackie-robinson-106641 Phil Cavarretta, hometown Cubs hero http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/phil-cavaretta-hometown-cubs-hero-106305 <p><p>Last week, for the White Sox opener, we talked about Johnny Mostil, a native Chicagoan who played his entire major league career in a Chicago uniform, and was also a Sox star. Today is the Cubs home opener. Today the subject is a Cubs star.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cavaretta%2C%20Phil_0.jpg" style="width: 240px; height: 397px; float: right;" title="Cavarretta the rookie (author's collection)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Phil Cavarretta was born twenty years after Mostil, in 1916.&nbsp;Unlike Mostil, he made it to the major leagues quickly. Phil was only 18, and a few months&nbsp;out of Lane Tech, when the Cubs signed him in 1934.&nbsp;In his first appearance at Wrigley Field, he hit a home run.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The next season Cavarretta became the Cubs&rsquo; regular first baseman.&nbsp;He developed into a solid left-handed hitter&nbsp;known for his&nbsp;hustling style of play.&nbsp;Injuries plagued him.&nbsp;Separate broken ankles kept him out of action for much of two seasons.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cavarretta was rejected for World War II service because of a hearing problem.&nbsp;Now in his late 20s, he hit his playing peak.&nbsp;In 1944 he made the All-Star team for the first time.&nbsp;The next year was Cavarretta&rsquo;s year.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1945 Cavarretta hit .355 to win the National League batting championship.&nbsp;He was named the league&rsquo;s Most Valuable Player, and led his team into the World Series&ndash;the last time the Cubs made it that far.&nbsp;Though the team lost, Phil batted .423 for the seven games.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cavaretta vet.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 376px; float: left;" title="Cavarretta the star (author's collection)" /></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">After the war ended, Cavarretta was named an All-Star twice more, showing he was more than a wartime flash.&nbsp;Meanwhile, the Cubs were going into a long decline.&nbsp;In 1951 team owner P.K. Wrigley made his most popular player the manager.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cavarretta continued to play part-time.&nbsp;His record as a manager was mixed.&nbsp;Just before the start of the 1954 season, Wrigley fired him.&nbsp;Always honest, Cavarretta had told his boss that the&nbsp;team had no hope of making the first division.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But Cavarretta wasn&#39;t through. After 20&nbsp;years with the Cubs, he now signed with the White Sox as a first baseman and pinch-hitter. He got into 71 games and hit .316. That proved to be his final spurt. Early in the 1955 season the Sox released him.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cavarretta stayed in baseball another two decades, managing in the minor leagues, working as a hitting coach, and doing some scouting. He died in 2010 at the age of 94. At the time of his death he was the last major leaguer to have played against Babe Ruth.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 08 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/phil-cavaretta-hometown-cubs-hero-106305 Wrigley Field-Chicago's gem needs some polish http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/wrigley-field-chicagos-gem-needs-some-polish-106527 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_wrigley_nam_y_huh_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>All the chatter surrounding the future of Wrigley Field is almost smothering&nbsp;Opening Day and the ballpark. Let the politicians, the Ricketts family and the neighborhood slug it out and figure the steps of what will happen to this iconic stadium next.</p><p>After this year the face lift will begin in earnest. It is needed and will be welcomed by players, managers and the media. There have been some subtle changes as the park nears its 100<sup>th</sup> year, but it is still a place where the Cubs and the fans celebrate the game of baseball.</p><p>When the Chicago Tribune bought the team thirty years ago from the Wrigley family, they had a huge obstacle to face with their plans for the park. After a long, losing history, the Cubs made the 1984 playoffs, but the lack of lights became a rallying cry by team ownership. Major league baseball penalized the Cubs post season schedule against the San Diego Padres because they couldn&#39;t play night games. After the Illinois legislature finally gave the green light to the team, Wrigley Field finally turned on the lights in August, 1988. The first scheduled lit game was supposed to be August 8, 1988, but Mother Nature had her own idea, and rain postponed the game, so the actual first game under the lights was the next night, August 9th.</p><p>The uniqueness of this old ballpark is what makes it special to baseball fans, not just Cub fans. Boston&rsquo;s Fenway Park is the only baseball stadium that shares similar feelings for its field, structure and surroundings. Having been to both venues, the &ldquo;Friendly Confines&rdquo; gets the nod from me. But only to watch the game, the amenities need to be replaced and upgraded. The very small locker room for both the home team and visitors is one of the toughest to navigate. A bad rain can cascade into the dugouts and into the Cubs locker room. The media room for interview sessions behind the dugout is very cramped. It was priceless when former Cub Lou Pinella stepped into the room for his first press conference there, he couldn&rsquo;t believe it was that small. It was just one of many aspects of the old park he discovered would be an adjustment for him and any manager before and after.</p><p>Do you ever wonder why the managers are perched by the steps in the dugout? Their vision of the field is limited because of the deepness of the dugout.</p><p>The press box and broadcast booths are the smallest in all of the Major Leagues. It is always fun to hear the New York Yankee contingent come to Wrigley Field and complain about the working conditions and their seats. From their broadcasters to the working media, they gripe from the time they get there until the time they leave. Somehow they fault the Cubs staff for the conditions, and they think they can magically fix it.</p><p>These are some of the negative issues about Wrigley and there are more, but let&rsquo;s not dwell on it.</p><p>Here are some of the positives, the big manual scoreboard,&nbsp;the green ivy on the brick wall and the closeness to the field. If you are lucky enough to sit in the first row near the bullpens or near the on-deck circle, you can have conversations with the players and the sometimes the manager. It is Gary Pressey playing the organ and the celebrity-led 7<sup>th</sup> inning stretch (In my opinion, should be retired).</p><p>The bleachers are a special place in the ballpark and probably the most famous, as well as the&nbsp;favorite place for fans. You can rub elbows with regulars that have sat there for decades. Legendary broadcaster Harry Caray would broadcast from there. That area and the people that inhabited those seats were immortalized in the 1977 play, <em>Bleacher Bums. </em>Chicago native actor Joe Mantegna hatched the idea for the play and starred in the original production with another Chicagoan, Dennis Farina. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;The Cub teams that have played year in and year out have not had the ultimate success at Wrigley. The last time they played in a World Series was 1945, and they lost, of course, to the Detroit Tigers. The famed 1969 team thrilled the Cub faithful throughout that year, only to fade at the end. Four members of that team made the Hall of Fame - Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ron Santo. There were several other players that enjoyed great careers at Wrigley, most recently, Ryne Sandberg,Andre Dawson and Sammy Sosa come to mind. There hasn&#39;t been much of a post season throughout the last few decades, the 2003 season being the closest the team has come recently. Five outs away and the world stood still as a foul ball changed the complexion of that playoff series. Wrigley Field never felt so down.</p><p>Even after losing 100 games last season, the park is still a place for baseball fans to congregate. My dear friend, Sue, lives in England, and when she makes her way &ldquo;over the pond,&quot; Wrigley Field is a coveted stop no matter how the team in playing.</p><p>Years ago I brought my favorite uncle to a game. I surprised him with a chance to go on the field and have his picture taken by team photographer Steve Green. Wrigley is one of the only places that can make grown people cry. My uncle certainly did that day.</p><p>It&#39;s Opening Day at Wrigley, with the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers facing off this afternoon. I&#39;ll be there along with thousands of others.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 07 Apr 2013 15:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/wrigley-field-chicagos-gem-needs-some-polish-106527